“With the 3rd selection in the in the 1st round of the 2010 1st Year Player Draft, the Baltimore orioles Select… Manny Machado.” Those were the words that rang out from MLB Commissioner Bud Selig as the Orioles made Machado, of Brito High School in Miami, their man. Machado is a prep shortstop, who was widely regarded as the best high school position player this draft had to offer. Known for bothhis smooth defensive ability and project-able offensive ability, Machado has drawn comparisons to another Dominican born, Miami raised lanky SS in Alex Rodriguez. Some scouts insist that Machado’s bat will not develop near the power that Rodriguez has, but that his bat could project to a .300 hitter with above average power. When drafting a high school prospect who figures to grow and fill out as much as Machado does time will tell how well he develops as a hitter and whether or not he will out grow his position. What we do know is that the Orioles have selected a toolsy position player that could be a cornerstone of the franchise int he long term and should rocket to the top of the Orioles positional prospects in the short term.
In the weeks leading up to the draft it was a foregone conclusion that the Washington Nationals were going to select Bryce Harper with the #1 overall pick. The Orioles appeared likely to have a shot at either Machado, or Texas high-school righty Jameson Taillon, or both, depending on what the Pittsburgh Pirates did with the 2nd pick. Many Orioles fans and draft experts expected that Taillon would be the pick for the O’s, but as the day 1 of the draft unfolded rumors spread that the Pirates were going to select Taillon and that Machado would be there for the O’s at #3. Those rumors were true and the Orioles wasted no time in selecting the third member of the trio that set themselves apart from the rest of the 2010 draft class.
The selection of Machado extend beyond the unknown of how he will develop as his game matures and he faces better competition on a daily basis in the minors. Machado is also represented by Scott Boras. The Orioles have been able to sign 2 notable Boras clients in recent years in Matt Wieters and Jake Arrieta. Boras is known as a shrewd negotiator, whose clients often do not sign until right up to the August 15th deadline. There is little doubt that Machado will wait as long as possible before signing and will likely command a large signing bonus. Signing late will mean that Machado will not likely suit up for the Orioles until a fall or winter league, or possibly not until next spring. It is hard for the a team like the Orioles to capitalize on the excitement of a highly regarded talent when he is not likely to be heard from until April 2011. If there is anythiung the Orioles need rigt now it is excitement about their talent.
There are also concerns that Machado, who has size 13 feet, might grow and fill out to much to have the range and flexibility to be a short stop. We are used to big short stops in Baltimore, but how large the kid becomes could decide if he can stick at 6 or have to move to 5. Some scouts also do not like that Machado is not a fast base-runner. In some of his scouting video he is a bit awkward running the bases. It looks likewhen he is done growing his stride will become more smooth and fluid. He will never be a burner, but I think the concerns over his lack of speed are overblown.
I am excited by this pick. I had my mind set on the O’s taking Taillon, but am warming to having a top flight positional prospect. The Orioles need to prove they can develop him into a major league player, assuming they can get him signed. My questions for O’s fans, specifically one’s that hangout here are: 1) Would you have preferred Taillon or another player at this spot? 2) Aside from A-Rod who do you think is a better comparison to an MLB’er past or present?
Here is a scout video from MLB.com.